The state of the concrete floor.
"Life is a series of problems that need to be solved," said Maggie Smith, aka the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey, during Sunday evening's episode. Or something like that. We seem to be having more than our fair share of them at the moment.
Yesterday should have been a red letter day for us, a day to celebrate having a watertight kitchen again after 16 long weeks, with new doors installed by Express Bi-Folding windows, from Leeds no less.
They have been great, a good service, on time, to a high standard. But. BUT. On the very day they were being installed, lovely Christof, from Waxed Floors in Clapham, popped in to test the moisture content in the concrete floor and check it was level before laying the beautiful engineered timber next week, and he was not happy. He rang me. I was at the library collecting parking permits. I sat down.
"Bad news, I'm afraid," he said, and I knew what he was going to say. We already had an inkling that all was not right.
I realised that my breathing had become a little laboured, shallower, and that my hands were shaking ever so slightly. All I could think was: "what's the solution, what's the solution, what's the solution?" I always want to hear a solution straightaway but you have to let people tell you the problem in detail in their own time first and usually, for me, that means SLOWLY. SLOWLY. SLOWLY. I'm nothing if not impatient, it's a characteristic I deplore in myself and it has caused me many a problem in the past. Act in haste, repent at leisure. I think about that a lot.
So, do you want the detail, or the long and the short of it? I thought so. Here's the long and the short of it.
The concrete is crap, it's dust, something went wrong with the mix. It's not level either but that hardly matters by comparison with the quality. It has to come up. It is coming up right now as I write, and quite quickly and easily too as it happens, probably because it is crap.
What now then? What is the solution? Do we have a new concrete floor put down, which will be quick to lay but take 5- 6 weeks to dry before the engineered timber floor can be fitted on top, and which definitely means missing Christmas in our new kitchen? Or, do we get the builder to make a new floor with joists, with the underfloor heating coiled between? I believe that's called a floating floor.
Answers on a postcard (or below) would be great because we really have no clue what to do for the best, and unfortunately neither does our builder. On the plus side he is trying to put it right. For free.
We originally wanted a concrete floor because they conduct heat well and retain that heat for a long time, and it's the cheapest and easiest thing for the builder to do (you would think). The downside is that it takes time to dry before you can lay engineered timber on top.
The floating floor is a skilled job. It all has to be cut and laid and made level. This is what, at the moment, we have decided to aim for because if it can be done in a week we can still make Christmas. IF. The builder says he can do it in a week...
But can he?
And is he up to the job?
New windows going in. Finding out that the floor had to come up rather rained on our parade.